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What happens when it is time to check-out of the rental property at the end of the tenancy?

I have lots of wonderful dealings with tenants, many of whom I have known and had a great relationship with for a number of years during their tenancy.   I just find it disappointing how things can change so rapidly when it comes to checking out of the property at the end of the tenancy.  Sometimes the personality u-turn is rather shocking…!

I have worked in my current job role for over 5 years and I have come across all sorts of situations which can arise at the point of check-out.  The vast majority are exceptionally pleasing and it is wonderful when a property is returned in even better condition than it was in at the outset of the tenancy.  A lot of tenants treat a rental property with such respect and care, that I often see complete redecoration, brand new items of furniture and fully stocked gardens (although I urge every tenant to confirm in writing any changes with the Landlord or these could end up as chargeable points).

Sometimes, however, a tenant vacates their property and does not leave it in such a desirable state as it was when they moved in.  This is often when true colours emerge, sometimes in very elaborate ways:  I have received jokes & humorous explanations, which are infinitely nicer to hear than abusive rantings, screaming, weeping, sobbing, shouting, or even the terrible situations when people are so angry they can barely speak!

I know that I ultimately work for the Landlord in the check-out process, but I am a human being just doing my job and I am exceptionally fair, so please can I throw out a piece of advice….  Try not to abuse the person who is going to be helping you… in this case…. me (the middle man)!  Being calm and logical is the best way to help the situation, give me all of the facts and back-up your arguments with as much evidence as you have available (such as emails, letters, receipts, dated photographs) and I am sure that the situation can be negotiated in an amicable and friendly manner… This, of course, is always preferable to dealing with a red eyed, horned head monster!

So, what should you do as a tenant to ensure the safe return of your deposit?

The basics rules are…

  1. Always pay your rent right up to your leaving date.  Never assume that you can take rent from the deposit, it is not held for this purpose.
  2. Always check your in-going inventory and ensure you put the property back to its original condition, and leave all items in exactly the same places as at the outset of the tenancy.  You are allowed ‘fair’ wear and tear and this will vary according to the period of time you have been at the property; how many tenants (and their ages); whether you have pets or smokers; whether you are on a main road etc.
  3. On the matter of wear & tear, contrary to what many tenants believe, it does not include dirt, burns to carpets or food debris left in cupboards amongst many other things that tenants have tried to put down as wear & tear (you’d be surprised!).
  4. If your property was deemed professionally cleaned at the start of your tenancy, then have it professionally cleaned at the end.  A professional clean is carried out by a company and is not a ‘domestic’ clean.  Yes, your aunt may be a cleaner who can clean ‘better than anyone else you know’, and yes, I can appreciate that you ‘used a toothbrush to clean the grouting on your bathroom tiles’, but it will not be deemed a professional clean unless you provide a receipt and allow us to get that cleaner back to the property IF the job is not up to standard.


The best advice I can give is that you call your Landlord or Agent before you move out and ask them what is required.  If you are unsure then download our ‘Information for Tenants Moving Out’ booklet on our website @ www.sewellgardner.com or take a look at the deposit website; if your deposit is logged with us, this is the TDS website at www.thedisputeservice.co.uk





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